Go to Homepage   Diana Deverell: Night on Fire

 

Avon Books (Hardcover), ISBN 0380976110
As Diana Deverell's Night on Fire begins, State Department anti-terrorist expert Casey Collins finds herself in Denmark, helping a colleague track down contraband Stinger missiles that may have fallen into terrorist hands. Not an unimportant job, but one whose urgency diminishes with each passing year. As they age, Stingers become inoperable, or at least unreliable. So when an U.S. commercial plane explodes over Maine, Casey bulldozes her way onto the interagency task force forming to investigate the incident -- an assignment where she can put her expertise to better use. 

Besides, Casey wants to go back to the States now that she's on the outs with her long-term lover, Stefan. Never mind that the State Department considers the Polish-born Danish intelligence agent a security risk. Without him, Denmark depresses her.  

But the Danish police collar Casey before she can board her plane. They won't let her leave the country until she can explain the dead Danish outlaw biker they found in her apartment.  

Casey gets little help from her American colleagues. The new, gung-ho FBI agent assigned to the embassy thinks Casey's in cahoots with whoever has the missing Stingers. Meanwhile, back in the States, her failure to report on time to the task force threatens the State Department's position in the constant internecine struggle between the various agencies with overlapping responsibilities in the areas of foreign and domestic crime and terrorism. 

Into this already tense situation, Casey's friend Bella throws another bombshell. Bella's son, Casey's godson, has leukemia. He needs a bone marrow transplant, and the best potential donor is the boy's long-missing father -- now, alas, a member of the same biker gang as the corpse in Casey's apartment. Throw in the sudden appearance of an old love from Casey's past and a wild rumor that someone's figured out how to give the aging Stingers a longer shelf life... 

Deverell belongs to the strong tea school of plot development: immerse your protagonist in hot water as soon as possible and keep her there till the last page. Deverell paints an alarmingly convincing portrait of the world of her anti-terrorism specialist. I'm not sure it's good for me to know this much about outlaw bikers and contraband weapons, and I really, really wish I thought Deverell's scathing portrayal of interagency squabbling was mere fiction.  

Deverell's skill at spinning a complex and twisted plot remains undiminished from Twelve Drummers Drumming, the first in this series. In addition, Casey's emotions and motivations in the new book seem more believable and solidly grounded. The Danish setting is another plus. While the book never bogs down with long descriptions, Deverell's knowledge and obvious affection for the country and its people add another layer of depth to an already solid work. 

P.S. to the author: is Flemming Neilsen, the dashing Danish frogman, someone you know? If so, can we talk?  

Donna Andrews 

Donna Andrews is working on the sequel to her St. Martins/Malice Domestic Award-winning mystery, Murder, With Peacocks.

Click here to share your views.